"We also practice what to do during drive-by shootings."
So sayeth the elderly lady who I was chatting with, while standing in her yard, along with 3 of her grandchildren.
I was volunteering with the American Red Cross yesterday morning, passing out free smoke alarms and batteries to houses in what we refer to as the "inner-city" of Kansas City. Besides the alarms and batteries, I was also dispensing out fire safety advice - ensuring that everyone knows how to escape out of their house in case it was on fire.
I had asked the grandma and her grandkids if they practice regular fire drills, and she had replied in the affirmative...
And had then hit me with the above bombshell.
I was gobsmacked.
"We HAVE to in this neighborhood," she went on. "Why, there was a shooting right over there just last week." She points to a house a little further down the block.
The kids then chimed in with the 9-year old saying, "Yeah, I was playing outside and I remembered what Grandma said - so I hit the deck and crawled to cover."
Grandma replied, "I was so proud of them. They KNOW to quit playing and get low."
Again. I was gobsmacked.
And it resonated with me during the rest of the day, replaying that conversation over and over in my mind.
What kind of a world do we live in when children have to practice being safe from drive-by shootings in a city in America?
I remember being 9-years old...playing outside with my friends in driveways and yards until the streetlights came on - my signal to get my butt home before my mom would start yelling for me. If I wasn't home before she called for me - I knew I was in big trouble.
And that's the only thing I worried about then. Being home before Mama had to call for me. Making sure I saw those streetlights come on.
I didn't worry about drive-by shootings.
Isn't that sad?
I'm not only sad, but I'm angry. Angry at what our society has become. Angry that I feel helpless in changing it.
Angry that little kids in my own city practice drive-by shooting safety.
Peace...I really do MEAN that...it's not just a sign-off that I use every time I blog.
It's a fervent hope - a fervent prayer - that peace will come to our world...to our neighborhoods...
And most important...to our children.